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Speech by Lim Swee Say Minister for Manpower at Committee of Supply 2018
Work passes and permits
Workplace safety and health
Speech by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, at Committee of Supply 2018
6 March 2018
Skills, training and development
Work passes and permits
The employment landscape has changed in the past three years from 2015 to 2017, compared to the previous three years from 2012 to 2014. Net job growth slowed from more than 100,000 a year to less than 10,000 a year. Retrenchment went up to 19,000 in 2016 and resident unemployment rate increased to 3.2% in December 2016. Long-term unemployment rate went up to 0.8% in September 2016.
The reasons were partly cyclical, but mostly structural – externally, the faster pace of technology and innovation, keener and stronger global competition; and internally, the ageing of local population, and changing profile of local workforce.
Manpower-driven growth of the past was no longer sustainable. Low productivity growth will weaken our economic competitiveness. Fast growth of foreign manpower will increase social tensions and weaken social cohesion.
This is why we have to transform our economy to be more innovative, manpower-lean and productive.
As we transform, we are mindful that one main concern out there is about jobs. Will technology destroy old jobs? Will foreigners take away more new jobs? Will we end up with “jobless growth” for our people?
Ms Jessica Tan, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Mr Desmond Choo and Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim asked whether our locals have benefitted from the economic growth and transformation efforts.
Again, comparing the past three years (2015-2017) with the previous three years (2012-2014), even though the growth of foreign employment has turned negative, local employment rebounded to 21,000 last year.
Quality of local employment has improved too. The PMET share of local workforce went up faster in the past three years, than the previous three years.
In terms of wage growth, annualised real income of our residents grew faster across all income groups from 2.3% to 3.7%. Wages at P-20 and P-30 not only grew faster than before but were also grew higher than most income groups.
Sir, economic and workforce restructuring is never painless. But, we have to do what is necessary.
We are certainly in better shape today. In the past three years, manpower growth has slowed from an average of 4% to 1%, while productivity gain has grown from 0.4% previously to an average of 1.8% over the past three years.
Having transformed from 4+0.4=4.4 in 2012 to 2014, to 1+1.8=2.8 in 2015 to 2017, we are now much closer to our future growth strategy of 1+2=3.
Sir, 1+2=3 is not a rigid formula for future growth. It is a framework to remind us of the need to become more manpower lean and more productive, if we want out future growth to be more sustainable.
Mr Desmond Choo asked if the productivity growth is sustainable. We have made good progress, but transformation is uneven and not pervasive enough across all sectors.
To make transformation and productivity growth more sustainable, we must press on with four key thrusts. These are:
Better job growth in our economy,
Better employment outcomes for our people,
Better protection for our workers, and
Better capabilities in our Singapore workforce.
Better job growth in our economy
First, better job growth in our economy. The average net job growth of less than 10,000 a year in the past 3 years was not high enough. We need to bring it up to 25,000 to 40,000 a year to provide enough jobs for a 3.4 million workforce growing at about 1%.
We must also keep improving the quality and attractiveness of jobs to meet the higher aspiration of our people.
So, instead of developing Lean Enterprises individually, we need to develop Lean Industry collectively, especially for sectors that are less attractive to locals today. Minister Josephine Teo will elaborate on this.
Better employment outcomes for our people
Second, better employment outcomes for our people. Last year, under the Adapt & Grow initiative, we helped more than 25,000 jobseekers to secure jobs successfully.
Even though resident unemployment rate has declined since June last year, we are still concerned that unemployment in the future is likely to be stickier, not due to shortage of jobs, but shortage of skills and job-skill mismatch.
We have enhanced the national Jobs Bank into an online job portal known as MyCareersFuture. We are also strengthening the Adapt & Grow initiative to minimise missed matches and mismatches. Minister Josephine Teo will elaborate later.
Sir, as we make our economy more innovative, we must also keep our workforce inclusive for the young and old, high- and low-skilled, and for both genders.
For our older workers, re-employment age was raised from 65 to 67 in 2017. Employment rates for mature workers aged 55 to 64, and 65 and over, has continued to improve. We are also actively promoting more companies to make better use of technology to make jobs easier, safer and smarter (ESS) for our mature workers.
Mr Zainal Sapari and Dr Intan suggested raising their CPF contribution rates. Mr Heng Chee How suggested to review the need for statutory retirement, and to raise re-employment age further beyond 67.
The Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers was set up in 2005. Issues raised by Mr Heng, Mr Zainal Sapari and Dr Intan are important issues and the Tripartite Committee will study them.
For low-wage workers, I agree with members that we must do more to improve their skills, productivity, careers and wages in a more sustainable manner.
We introduced the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for cleaning in 2014, followed by the landscaping and security in 2016. The outcomes have been positive.
A few days ago, I came across a Straits Times article by NUS’ economists Kenneth Ler and Ivan Png titled, “Impact of Progressive Wage Model”, which said: “… as a unique kind of ‘minimum wage’ policy, the PWM has succeeded in raising wages without apparently reducing employment. More importantly, as a tailored, structured and progressive policy, it provides a wage ladder for low-skilled Singaporean workers, holding out its promise of growing income over time.”
Sir, we will make the adoption of PWM more widespread to benefit more workers. Minister of State (MOS) Sam Tan will elaborate later.
Better protection for our workers
Third, better protection for our workers. Our workforce is changing fast. We now have more PMETs and fewer rank-and-file workers. This trend will continue.
Our employment landscape is changing too. With the growth of the platform economy, we can expect to see more freelancers and self-employed persons (SEPs). We can concerned for their skills upgrading, fair treatment, loss of income due to injury or illness, and savings for healthcare and retirement. Minister Josephine Teo will elaborate on this later.
For the vast majority who still engage in jobs with employer-employee relationship, Mr Patrick Tay and Dr Intan called for a review of the Employment Act (EA). I agree.
Currently, the EA covers three groups of employees. First, all workmen who are manual workers or blue collar workers, including most technicians. Second, all non-workmen who are non-manual workers or white collar workers. Third, some but not all managers and executives with a salary cap of $4,500.
With PMETs making up 56% of local workforce now and going up to 65% by around 2030, it is timely to make a more fundamental change to the coverage of the EA.
In consultation with the tripartite partners, we have decided to enhance our current EA framework.
First, we will remove the salary cap of EA to cover all employees, including all PMETs. Patrick Tay must be happy to hear this as he has been advocating this for many years.
The exceptions are public servants, domestic workers and seafarers who are covered separately, such as by other Acts, due to their nature of work.
All core employee benefits in EA, including minimum days of annual leave, paid public holidays, sick leave and hospitalisation leave, as well as other protection, such as timely payment of salary, maternity protection and childcare leave, and statutory protection against wrongful dismissal, will be extended to all employees and will cover an additional 430,000 PMEs. They will also have the right to preserve existing terms and conditions for employment transfer resulting from sale of business and business restructuring.
Mr Patrick Tay asked for more clarity on the types of transfers within or outside the scope of Section 18A. We agree that more clarity is useful and we will work with tripartite partners to update our guidelines on this.
Second, we will extend additional protection on hours of work and overtime pay to more workers. It is currently extended to workmen who earn up to $4,500 and already covers more than 99% of the workmen. For non-workmen, the current cap of $2,500 will be raised to $2,600. This enhancement will extend coverage to half of our workforce.
As for overtime pay, the salary cap for non-workmen will be revised upwards from $2,250 to $2,600. About 100,000 non-workmen will benefit from this increase.
The third and final change to the EA concerns dispute resolution relating to salary disputes or wrongful dismissal.
Currently, all salary-related disputes are mediated at Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM). If unresolved, claims are heard at the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT). But wrongful dismissals are adjudicated by MOM and not ECT.
We will shift it over to ECT to provide both employers and employees with a “one-stop service”.
We will seek Parliament’s approval of these amendments to the EA later this year for implementation by 1 April 2019.
Mr Daniel Goh spoke about protection for contract workers. The tripartite partners launched the Tripartite Standard (TS) on the Employment of Term Contract Employees in July last year.
For contracts of 14 days or more, this TS calls for companies to treat contracts renewed within 1 month from the end of previous contract as continuous and cumulative in terms of length of service and for the computation of leave benefits and notice period for early termination or non-renewal.
It also calls for companies to provide training to ensure that their contract workers can perform their roles effectively.
Associate Professor Daniel Goh asked for an update on this TS. As of end February, more than 550 employers covering more than 30,000 term-contract employees have adopted this Standard. So far, we have not received any complaints from these contract employees.
Associate Professor Daniel Goh suggested conducting audits and survey, and to include retrenchment benefits in the Standard. Being a new standard, our focus now is to increase the adoption by more employers. We will look into these suggestions when we next review the Standard.
Another important area of protection for our workers is their safety and health. Through the joint efforts of the tripartite partners, Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) performance has improved. Fatality rate has dropped to 1.2, which is the lowest level ever recorded for our workforce.
Our next target under WSH 2028, which is to be formulated, is to bring it down further to below 1 per 100,000 workers. We are also committed to reduce workplace injuries and enhance workplace health by embracing a mindset of Total Workplace Health and Safety (WSH). MOS Sam Tan will elaborate later.
Better capabilities in our Singapore workforce
Last but not least, our fourth and probably one of the most critical challenges is to ensure that slower growth of our Singapore Workforce will not become the bottleneck in the future growth of our Singapore economy.
Today, the Singapore workforce of 3.4 million is made up of 2.3 million locals (2/3 of total workforce) and 1.1 million foreigners (1/3 of total workforce). 2/3 local + 1/3 foreign = 1 Singapore Workforce.
With slower manpower growth into the future we need to maximise the potential of our 2/3 local, 1/3 foreign so that together, we can maximise the potential of our Total Singapore Workforce. We must strive for 2/3 + 1/3 not just = 1, but > 1.
First, we must not allow 2/3 + 1/3 to be < 1. This could happen if unfair employers discriminate against our locals. To prevent this from happening, we must be pro-business, but only to those who are pro-worker.
We have identified 500 companies so far. They have pre-conceived ideas that local PMETs are either unable or unwilling to do the job. So they write them off, without even considering them fairly.
We therefore put them on our Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Watchlist, and their Employment Pass (EP) applications are subjected to additional scrutiny.
This is to eradicate “nationality bias” as described by Mr Patrick Tay. In respond to Mr Patrick Tay and Mr Chong Kee Hiong, these companies on our watchlist come from various sectors, including employment agencies and placement companies.
Mr Patrick Tay, Ms Jessica Tan, Mr Chong Kee Hiong, Mr Lim Biow Chuan and Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim asked for an update on the FCF Watchlist.
Since we started in Feb 2016, a total of 1,900 EP applications have been withheld or rejected by MOM or withdrawn by the companies. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) worked with them to improve their HR practices.
Workforce Singapore (WSG), NTUC-e2i and Institute of Higher Learning (IHLs) had also worked with them to recruit fresh graduates and mid-career local PMETs. As a result, more than 2,200 Singaporean PMETs were hired.
One of these companies is an IT services firm with more than 1,000 PMET employees. It was placed on the Watchlist in Feb 2016. The company worked with TAFEP and IMDA to attract and retain locals, and hired about 200 more Singaporean PMETs.
After exiting from the Watchlist, the company continues to adopt fairer and more progressive HR practices, which is are win-win outcomes for the business and workers.
Another example is a private wealth management firm with about 80 PMET employees. The company used to hire mostly foreign PMETs to serve mostly expatriate clients. It was placed on our Watchlist in Feb 2016.
Since then, the company has re-positioned itself to serve both local and expatriate clients. It hired 30 Singaporean wealth managers and PMETs and trained them here and overseas.
After being removed from the watchlist, the company continues to hire and develop more local wealth managers and PMETs to grow their business. Again, win-win outcomes.
So far, 150 companies have improved their HR practices and exited from the Watchlist. Of the remaining 350 companies, 60 have not been cooperative and showed no sign of improvement. We have curtailed their work pass privileges, no new EP applications and no renewal of existing EPs, until they adopt fair HR practices.
Sir, we will continue to fight this win-lose mindset of 2/3 + 1/3 < 1, because it results in a waste of our precious human capital.
Second, for 2/3 + 1/3 to be > 1, we will make the “2/3 local” better and strengthen our local core.
I agree with Ms Jessica Tan and Mr Lim Biow Chuan that we will continue to enhance employment and employability of Singaporean PMETs. We will create more jobs of the future for them through Industry Transformation; more skills of the future in them through SkillsFuture, and more careers of the future with them through Adapt and Grow.
To ensure fair access to more jobs and better jobs, we will strengthen FCF further as suggested by Mr Patrick Tay. We will expand the requirement to advertise jobs on national Jobs Bank before EP application to cover more employers.
Not just those with more than 25 employees but also those with at least 10 employees. It will also cover more jobs with salary of up to $12,000 as at today, to jobs with salary of up to $15,000. This will take effect from 1 July 2018.
Third, for 2/3 + 1/3 to be >1, we will make “1/3 foreign” better, a point made by Ms Jessica Tan.
As we moderate the intake of foreign manpower, especially foreign professionals, employers will say that they cannot find enough locals who have the skills and are willing to do the jobs.
They say this has slowed down their pace of business transformation and growth. They feel our foreign manpower policy is too tight. To them, MOM is not pro-business enough.
But on the other hand, we hear ground feedback that there are still too many foreigners and too much competition here for jobs. They feel our foreign manpower policy is too loose. To them, MOM is not pro-worker enough.
Sir, the policy objective of MOM is to strike a fine and dynamic balance between the two.
We want to be open enough to be pro-business and to support business growth. Yet, tight enough to be pro-worker, and to enhance local employment growth.
We therefore stay open to the intake of foreign professionals but continue to tighten the criteria for EP in 2014 and 2017. This is to calibrate the growth of EP holders and enhance their overall quality at the same time.
Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim asks for the outcomes of these measures.
In the past three years, on average we approved about 50,000 new EPs each year. But at the same time, a similar number of EPs were not renewed.
The growth of EPs therefore slowed to an average of 3,000 a year in the past three years. This is significantly lower than the peak of 32,000 in one year, in 2011.
On the whole, local share of net growth in PMET employment improved from an average of 68% in the previous three years (2012- 2014), to an average of 78% in the past 3 years. Out of every 10 net increase in PMET jobs, 7 to 8 went to our local PMETs.
Sectors where locals accounted for a large majority of the net growth in PMET employment include: Professional Services, Infocomm, Healthcare as well as Financial & Insurance.
In short, we were able to draw on foreign professionals to help meet the manpower needs of the industry while at the same time, strengthen our local core.
By working together and complementing each other more, and competing with each other less, our Singapore workforce of 2/3 local and 1/3 foreign will be able to support a faster pace of industry transformation for us to compete better globally for better investments and jobs.
Mr Lee Yi Shyan asked for flexibility for employers to hire foreign PMETs, especially those with skills in great shortage locally.
Sir, let me clarify that the tightening of EP criteria should not be an issue for most foreign professionals with skills in great demand globally and in short supply locally.
These include AI, data analytics, advanced manufacturing, and digital services. These are expertise often cited in the media by various business groups.
Such professionals would command a salary premium and should be able to meet our EP criteria – in terms of salary, qualification and experience.
With the exception of those on our FCF Watchlist, as long as the employing companies have complied with our FCF in giving fair consideration to our local PMETs, they should generally be able to obtain approval for work pass applications for such specialists in short supply globally and in critical shortage locally.
In the exceptional situation where the EP applicants with the skillsets much needed here and yet are not able to meet our EP criteria, we do allow sector agencies to exercise some flexibility but only in a highly selective manner.
This is on the condition that there is indeed a shortage of such skills and that these foreign professionals are needed to help speed up our industry transformation and growth.
Sir, on balance, our manpower policy is both Pro-business and Pro-worker. It is designed to improve the quality of both our local workforce and foreign workforce in Singapore, and enhance the complementarity with each other.
This is so that we can meet the manpower needs of businesses for them to transform and grow, as well as the career aspirations of our people for them to adapt and grow.
Guided by this policy objective, we will introduce further changes to make the “1/3 foreign” even better.
For S Pass holders, who are mid-level skilled foreigners, their minimum qualifying salary was last updated in 2013.I agree with Mr Patrick Tay that it is timely to review. We will increase entry level salary by $200, up from $2,200 to $2,400.
As per current practice, those with more years of experience will need to meet higher salary thresholds.
To allow companies more time to adjust, the increase will be done in two steps. $100 from January 2019 and the next $100 from January 2020. We will also provide a transition period for existing S Pass holders.
For Work Permit Holders, there will be no further tightening for now. Hence, no change to dependency ratio ceiling (DRC) and levy.
As pointed out by Mr Melvin Yong and Mr Thomas Chua, our focus is to enhance quality and productivity. Work permit holders at basic skill level (R2) from non-traditional sources (NTS) and People’s Republic of China (PRC), are now allowed to work here for maximum of 10 years.
Those with higher skills (R1) in Services and Manufacturing are allowed to stay up to 18 years, and 22 years if they work in Construction, Process and Marine Shipyard. In response to feedback from the industry, we will extend the maximum period of employment by another 4 years.
This will apply to all sectors, and for both R1 and R2 and take effect from 1 May 2018.
We will also give employers more pathways to improve the quality of their foreign workers. Besides skills certification, those who are more experienced with higher pay can also be upgraded from R2 to R1.This is currently allowed for Construction, Process and Services sectors. We will now extend it to Manufacturing and Marine Shipyard sectors.
We believe this will be helpful to companies that want to hire and retain their better work permit holders. This will take effect from 1 Sep 2018.
Fourth, for 2/3 + 1/3 to be >1, we need to make the “+” better. To recognise and spread the adoption of progressive HR practices, we launched the Human Capital Partnership (HCP) Programme in February last year.
134 HC partners are now on board from various sectors ranging from MNCs to SMEs. Together, they employ over 140,000 locals. Mr Patrick Tay, Ms Jessica Tan and Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim asked for an update.
Sir, HCP companies believe in transforming HR into HC - not the consumption of HR but investment in HC. The companies turn their HR into their most precious HC.
First, they have strong local core at all levels. Collectively, local PMETs account for about 90% of total PMET workforce. However, it is not just more than 90% at entry to middle level, but also more than 80% at senior to top levels.
Second, their workforce is highly inclusive. Jobs are redesigned to be less physically demanding for the older workers. Flexible Work Arrangements are also offered:
To allow those with care responsibility at home to share jobs,
For employees to go on sabbaticals and pursue new opportunities within the company when they return,
To pursue part-time studies to upgrade themselves, or
Enable retired employees to return to work on part-time basis.
Third, HCP companies believe strongly in strengthening local-foreign complementarity. They transfer skills from foreign experts to our local workforce and build up local core in their senior management team.
One HCPartner which left a deep impression on me is Keystone Cable. It is a local SME with 140 employees. It is a maker of power and control cables with a strong foothold in the region. The plant is located in Senoko and is not easy to attract locals. It has to work doubly hard to compete with MNCs for talent. As a flexible and nimble SME, it embraces the mindset of HC development.
Started off as a delivery driver, Mr Jimmy Wong is now a Sales Executive. He brought in $1 million worth of sales in just six months in his new job. He is now being groomed to take on clients in overseas markets. The company was able to attract 20% more job applications last year. What is even more impressive is that 100% of those they offered jobs to, accepted their offers!
Sir, we will keep growing the HCP community, as suggested by Mr Patrick Tay. We will also promote adoption of Tripartite Standards, as reminded by Ms Thana.
Fifth and lastly, we must strengthen the synergy between “2/3 local” and “1/3 foreign”, so that the outcome will not be “=1”, but “>1”.
Globally, there is a big concern that technology will take away many jobs. Yet, we see an amazing race to embrace technology. China is the world’s number one user of industrial robots today.
Globally, there is a big concern that foreigners will take away jobs from the locals. Yet, more countries are opening up even more to attract foreigners with the skills and expertise to offer, including China and Japan.
This reminded me of the story of two men walking in the jungle, and a tiger was catching up on them. One of them stooped down to tighten the shoelaces. The other asked, “What are you trying to do”? He said, “I’m tightening my shoelaces”. The other questioned why he was tightening his shoelaces when the tiger was catching up on them. He replied, “Because I’m getting ready to run”. When asked if the man can run faster than the tiger, the man replied, “No, but all I need to do is to outrun you.”
In the global village, it is not possible to outrun technology. But, we can outrun the competition. Those running slower will see more jobs being destroyed by technology. Those who run faster, can create new jobs with technology, more than the loss of existing jobs to technology.
This explains why China is running fast with robots. Japan is not slow too. With the help of Robots and AI, Honda Motor, Canon, and Pioneer, are bringing the production of car components, car navigation system and digital camera, back to Japan. So, “Made-in-Japan” is making a comeback with the help of not just robots but intelligent robots and human co-workers.
With the world out there running fast, just imagine, what if one day a “cheaper” China becomes better by using technology faster than us. A “better” Japan becomes cheaper also by using technology faster than us.
If this happens, they would become cheaper, better, and faster than Singapore. What future will we have then? So, Singapore must run fast too, the faster the better. And we are.
We are running fast in Advanced Manufacturing. At Bedok Industrial Estate, my constituency, Panasonic is building a Smart Factory there. It will have machines fitted with sensors, inter-connected to work with each other. Operations will be more manpower-lean and the local workers will be retrained to take on new and better jobs, such as robot coordinators.
The adoption of predictive management, will mean near-zero operation incidents, such as no machine breakdown and no product defect.
We are also running fast in AI. We now have AI Singapore, our national AI programme to anchor deep national capabilities in AI. We also have AI Business Partnership Programme to encourage and facilitate AI adoption in our industry, and the AI Apprenticeship Programme, to develop AI professionals in key skills such as machine learning and deep learning.
In Digital Services, MAS is promoting FinTech to realise our vision of becoming a Smart Financial Centre. It is working with industry to push through ground-breaking initiatives such as blockchain, quantum computing, big data, AI, and so on.
In fact, we move so fast that today that we are one of the top global FinTech hubs alongside London, New York and Silicon Valley. We are also running fast in becoming a Smart Nation.
In the 80’s, when I was still a young man, we became an Intelligent Island through National Computerisation, Office Automation and Computer Integrated Manufacturing. This time round, we aspire to become a Smart Nation and a Digital Government, through the Internet of Things, such as National Digital Identity, Smart Urban Mobility, Cybersecurity, and more.
Sir, all these are important and strategic initiatives to bring and keep us at the forefront of global technology and innovation.
However, to truly succeed in becoming a pervasively innovative economy and society, we need to do much more. We need to speed up the development and transfer of new and better global capabilities to our local workforce, a point made by Mr Chong Kee Hiong. Not just in high tech, high profile and high impact sectors, but in as many sectors as possible and as quickly as possible.
This is why we are piloting the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP). Because the potential scope for transfer and development of new capabilities, is limited only by our focus and determination. Mr Patrick Tay asked for an update. I will illustrate with a few examples.
In precision engineering, the smart phone is getting bigger, but flatter, and lighter. Hence, our local industry needs to use softer alloy, and fit in more chips and components. Companies need to use high speed, high precision machines to prevent cracking and warping.
Local engineers and technicians are also required to have new skills, to advise on product design and materials selection. To compete well, our local industry needs to acquire new technology and new capability to offer lower cost to be cheaper, higher accuracy to be better, and shorter cycle time to be faster. So, cheaper, better and faster.
Under the CTP, over a period of 15 months, we will support our precision engineering companies to install High Speed High Precision machines. We will also bring in foreign specialists from Germany, to train our local trainers through local and remote coaching. These local trainers are now training our local trainees from several companies in the industry.
In pharmaceutical transportation, today, more than 20 thousand tonnes of global pharmaceutical cargo, go through Changi Airport annually and the global market is still growing, and growing very fast.
But out of 209 companies certified by IATA to handle such cargo, we have only 10. To grow Singapore’s market share in a global industry that is growing very fast, the Singapore Air Cargo Agents Association (SAAA@Singapore), Changi Airport Group (CAG), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), and the industry, want to work together to bring in IATA certified trainers from UK, and Dubai, to train a group of local specialists here, who will then be able to multiply this capability by training other locals.
In total, we aim for up to 25 companies, to obtain IATA certification. This is another example of capability transfer.
Sir, CTP is also relevant to domestic sectors. For example in lift maintenance, the current approach is to wait for the lift to breakdown, then repair, then wait for the lift to breakdown again.
A better approach actually is to make all our lifts in Singapore, into “smart lifts”. Use predictive data analytics & maintenance to shift from corrective maintenance which means to wait for failure, to preventive maintenance which is periodic maintenance before failure, which is being done by many companies today, to predictive maintenance to reduce probability of failure.
Under CTP, we will partner with leading global vendors to bring in overseas specialists or send our local trainers overseas so that they can return to train our local trainees here. In this way, we can anchor “smart lifts” capability in Singapore.
Not many of us know that our local furniture industry, is a S$6 billion industry, with over 1,900 companies. Manufacturing facilities here focus mainly on made-to-order furniture.
Today, we can design and make furniture using 3-axis Computer Numeric Control or CNC machines. I asked them what is the meaning of 3-axis. They said that these machines can move Left – Right, Up – Down, Front – Back. In the words of the industry themselves, we are now still at Industry 2.0.
To upgrade our local industry to 4.0, we will help them bring in 5-axis CNC machines. Where the tool can twist and turn, cut in different directions and to create contours, complex shapes. This will make the job of Craftsmen ESS.
Under the CTP, Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), together with WSG, we will bring in specialists from Italy to train our local trainers and local craftsmen.
Another example of domestic industry is car maintenance. Market for hybrid cars grew by 200% in the past two years from 6,000 a year to 20,000 last year.
New capabilities are needed for the repair and maintenance of these hybrid cars. No longer do mechanics just have to deal with changing the oil and filter, checking and replacing battery, lights and brakes.
With hybrid cars, they have to handle a completely different system. Carry out battery load test, high voltage cable inspection, front motor test, and hybrid transmission test, and so on.
Currently, independent third party car workshops have no access to certifiable training, to improve skillsets of our local technicians. So, under the CTP, we will partner the Singapore Motor Workshop Association to bring in specialists from Germany, to train our local mechanics and to transfer the capability to our local industry.
Sir, these are just some examples to illustrate the point that the scope for capability transfer is tremendous. Hi Tech to Hi Touch, MNCs to SMEs, and domestic to export oriented industries. We will support good projects from any company and any industry, beyond those currently supported by economic agencies for specific sectors.
Mr Patrick Tay asked for details of CTP. To achieve real transfer of capability, project duration is mostly in months and years, not days and weeks. Specialists have to do more than just training. But also coaching and working alongside our local workers. Be their trainer, mentor and guide. Costs can often be the obstacles, especially for local enterprises.
Under the CTP, we will co-fund the cost of this capability transfer for foreign specialists to train our locals here or for our local trainers to be trained overseas. So that over time, we will be able to anchor more capabilities here, to upgrade our local workforce and industries, as we transform, adapt and grow.
In reply to Mr Low Thia Khiang, I would like to assure him that in our project evaluation, we will consult the sector agencies, and be guided by the various industry transformation maps, to ensure that these capabilities will be relevant, and able to strengthen our future competitiveness.
Mr Patrick Tay asked about the funding levels of the CTP. Funding support will range from 30%, 50% and 70% of the cost of capability transfer, which include the salary cost of expert trainers, both local and foreign, cost of living allowance in Singapore and overseas, airfare and training equipment for the industry.
Projects with higher impact at the industry level, and those benefiting SMEs will receive higher level of support.
Total funding per project is currently capped at $300,000. In exceptional cases as highlighted by Mr Patrick Tay, where the cost of capability transfer is high, and local expertise is much needed but lacking, funding support of up to 90% and project cost of more than $300,000, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Mr Desmond Choo said we should scale up CTP and accelerate the acquisition of new capabilities. I agree with him. We started the pilot late last year and we will reach out extensively to create more awareness and generate more interest.
We hope our sector agencies and tripartite partners including Labour Movement (LM) and various industry groups will make good use of CTP to fill the many capability gaps in a more pervasive manner.
We hope to do this across all sectors, all sizes of companies as quickly as possible.
Sir, our strategy of 2/3 + 1/3 >1 will help ensure that our Singapore Workforce can better support the growth of an innovative Singapore Economy and also create better skills, jobs and careers for an inclusive Singapore Workforce.
2/3 + 1/3 >1 may be bad mathematics but if we all work together, I am confident that even bad mathematics can be turned into good manpower policy for the benefits of all.
主席，目前全球局势正在快速改变. 在这适者生存的世界里, 新加坡的对策有两个.
在加强经济竞争力的同时, 我们也尽量发挥我们独特的长处与优点来加强我们劳动队伍的凝聚力, 这是很重要的.
无论是年轻或年长, 技能, 收入高或低, 我们必须特别关注年纪较大，收入较低的工友.
但是，对新加坡来说, 在加强竞争力的同时, 也加强我们劳动队伍的凝聚力, 才算是真正的成功。
可是最后抵达时, 才发现走到的并不是终点, 而是山穷水尽的尽头.
路虽然难走, 但只要我们劳资政三方同心协力, 协助国人, 我们还是可以跑在别人的前端.
也只有这样,我们才能让国民有更好的工作, 更好的薪资, 安居乐业, 一代胜于一代, 生活得更加美好.
Start of English Translation
Mr Chairman, the world is changing rapidly. In a world where only the fittest survive, Singapore has two strategies.
First, circumstances produce effective leaders. It is inevitable and unchangeable that rapidly changing technology and innovation form the big picture. If we don’t adapt, or don’t do so fast enough, we will be eliminated.
It is said that short-term pain is better than long-term pain. In order to progress continuously, we must master new technologies, transform quickly, and increase our competitiveness.
Our determination has produced significant achievements, such as the economic upturn, increase in productivity, fall in unemployment rate, and rise in wages. These are what we have achieved together.
However, we must not be complacent. Economic transformation and skills upgrading are like rowing upstream – if we do not move forward, we will end up moving backwards.
Therefore, our second strategy is that the effective leader will bring about favourable circumstances. For Singapore, while improving economic competitiveness, we also tap on our unique advantages as much as we can in order to strengthen the cohesiveness of our workforce. This is very important.
We have to ensure that the opportunities of the future economy benefits all levels of society, regardless of age, skill levels, or income levels.
We must especially pay attention to workers who are older and earning lower incomes. We must also enable those with young children and aged parents to develop their careers while taking care of their families.
We must also strengthen complementarity between our local and foreign workforce. We should not compete against one another internally, but instead compete globally together, in order to achieve better economic growth and better job opportunities for our people.
For some countries, success may mean strengthening economic competitiveness. But, for Singapore, real success is strengthening the cohesiveness of our workforce while improving our competitiveness.
Chairman, there are two kinds of paths in this world – the easy one, and the difficult one. Some countries choose the easy path, because they can travel faster on an easy path. However, eventually, they reach a dead end instead of the end point.
The path we have chosen is the difficult one, because we understand that there is no shortcut to transformation and upgrading. Even though the path is not easy, as long as the tripartite partners work together to help our people, we will still be able to be at the forefront, such that we will be led to new paths instead of a dead end.
So, let us continue to walk down this difficult path as one economy, one society, and one country. Only this way can we ensure our unique place in Asean, Asia, and the world. And only in this way, can we ensure that Singaporeans have better jobs, better wages, a safe place to live and work, that each generation is better than the previous one, and that life is better for everyone.
End of English Translation
Sir, we firmly believe that a job is the best welfare. Full employment is the best protection for our people.Together with our tripartite partners, at the national and sector levels, we have to do our best to transform across all sectors for our economy to transform and grow pervasively, as One Singapore Unlimited.
We also have to do our best to create better jobs, better skills and strive for better employment outcomes for everyone to adapt and grow inclusively, as One Singapore United.
Advances in technology will destroy many old jobs globally and here in Singapore. But if we do more together to build new and better capability faster than our competitors, we can move ahead and stay ahead to make every enterprise a better enterprise, every job a better job and every worker a better worker.Together, we can strive for Innovative, inclusive and sustainable growth for everyone.
And ultimately as Minister Heng said in Budget 2018: Together, A Better Future.
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Last Updated: 09 March 2018
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